It's almost been a full year since former MVP Derrick Rose was traded from the Chicago Bulls to the New York Knicks. Seeing as the Knicks are out of playoff contention, these last eight games might be Rose's last in blue and orange and it's about time to evaluate how he's been doing.
Out of 74 games possible, Rose has played in 64, starting them all. This alone is somewhat of a success as he only needs to play in three of the remaining eight games to have played the most games in a season since 2010-11. In those 64 games, he has averaged 32.5 minutes per game, also the highest since 2010-11. And he appears to be dunking again...
Derrick Rose's fast break dunk against the Spurs
Over the course of the season we've seen a lot of moves from Rose which - from a Chicago fan's perspective - make you feel like you're watching your ex-girlfriend do nasty things with her new lover. Still, it's wonderful to see how any player could recover this well after so many injury-riddled years.
He's definitely no MVP anymore, but let's see how his current season numbers stack up against his MVP season in 2010-11. He obviously doesn't get to the rim with the same consistency as he used to and his number of free throw attempts has decreased from 6.9 in '10-'11 to 4.0 in the current season, but he's making a career high 87.4 percent of them. Rose is only attempting 15.3 field goals per game this season, the lowest since his rookie season and over 4 attempts fewer than he had in '10-'11. He is now averaging 18.0 points per game, far away from the 25 points per game he had in 2010-11 but the highest since he tore his ACL in '11-'12.
I think it's quite clear what is happening here. Rose is trying to reinvent his game to be more effective and drive less to the basket. It's a wise choice, and for someone who never has been a strong shooter, it's quite impressive how much he's been able to improve from some areas of the floor. Rose is currently averaging a very strong 47.7 percent on shots between 15 and 19 feet from the basket, which is the highest of his entire career. To go along with that, he's weirdly averaging an embarrassing low 21.7 percent from three this year, which has made him move away from that part of the game almost completely, attempting only 0.9 threes per game.
As the Knicks are in the midst of a tanking, it doesn't show on the record, but he's been playing a lot better recently, averaging just above 50 percent from the field since February. Perhaps Rose is realizing that he only has a few games left to prove that he's worth a maximum contract (spoiler; he's not), but there are still important parts of his game that are missing.
Derrick has never been known to be a good defender. Even so, Tom Thibodeau managed to make him an average team defender, and in his prime (man, does it feel weird to refer to a 28-year-old's prime in past tense), he was actually a really good 1-on-1 defender when he was up for the challenge, which mostly occurred when playing other top point guards. Looking at this season, it's clear that he needs a good defensive scheme to be able to handle his defensive duties, and the Knicks are about as bad of a defensive team as it gets. Rose can't be faulted for the lack of defense of the whole team, but he isn't making them look better on that end either.
Another part of his game that has been criticized a lot is his passing. Before Rose tore his ACL in 2011-12, he was averaging 7.9 assists per game. He's currently down at 4.4. Some of that could again be faulted to the team he's playing on as few players on the Knicks are making their shots with consistency. His assist percentage suggests so and overall he makes 57 passes per game, which is pretty high. Again though, it's clear that he needs a better system to thrive in.
Overall, he isn't as strong as I would have hoped for, but his Per 36 numbers are actually pretty good - 20 PTS, 4.9 AST, 4.3 REB - and as reality caught up to me and my expectations settled down a bit I'm quite happy with how he's done so far. It's definitely a step in the right direction.
So what's next for Rose going into the free agency? While it was some time ago, he's openly hinted that he's seeking a big contract for the summer, but how much is he really worth? Well, he's certainly worth a lot more than the $3 million dollars Zach Lowe suggested. Really, it all depends on what role he gets put in. Some experts have suggested that Rose no longer is a starting caliber player, and instead could be an excellent 6th man. I say that they're wrong. He's still the fastest player on the floor on any given night and could become really good in the right system. There's probably very few of them out there, but send him to San Antonio, let Popovich smarten him up and I guarantee you that he'll make Tony Parker look even worse than he already is.